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According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the number of independent hardware stores in Milwaukee has shrunk 50% since the mid-1990s.
The article quotes Doug Mamayek, owner of Mamayek's Hardware, which is one of several recent hardware stores in the area to close. "We haven't been profitable probably for almost 10 years now," he told the newspaper.
Competition from national chains plus the weak economy were cited as causes for a rapid decline in the area's independent hardware stores, from 50 Milwaukee County stores in the mid-1990s to about 25 today.